This article was originally published on the College Park Patch as part of the weekly column by Gretchen Schock, Parenting on a Tightrope.
This was our first family vacation that required a long car ride. When we lived in Seattle, WA, I would travel to the East Coast to visit family and from experience learned the staples to have on hand for each flight—items to have just in case the layover lasted longer than expected, or if we had technical difficulties that left us motionless on the tarmac.
On flights, I always pack extra crackers hidden in my bag and pipe cleaners. Pipe cleaners are my go-to boredom buster. Hand your child some pipe cleaners and ask them to make a monster/fairy and see where their creative juices take them.
Before this trip I asked some seasoned mom friends who have endured long car rides with their children for advice. I also Googled "car trip activities for kids" and within minutes I was loaded with information.
Each child had their own backpack full of individual activities just for them. The contents consisted of coloring books, travel markers (these are a staple for us), small assignment style notebooks to write messages to each other, a travel-sized game (Sorry and Connect Four), two new comic books and a Ziploc bag filled with random Lego pieces. I didn't include Lego sets on purpose. I wanted to force them to think more creatively.
The absolute best purchase I made before this trip were these new plastic lap trays. They are perfect for building Legos, coloring and eating a snack without a mess.
At travel plazas, each child was able to get a new pressed penny for their collection. If you haven't already started your own pressed penny collection, I highly recommend it. When you go to museums, instead of dealing with whiny kids begging for overpriced items at the gift shop, you can instead hand them each 51 cents to have their penny pressed. My boys love these!
I hope your summer includes a road trip with your family. What is your go-to boredom buster?